By Mick Woiwod
Deeply researched and exactingly referenced throughout, William Barak and the Black Hats of Melbourne has been a decade in the making. It’s a story guaranteed to reignite the history wars of the past decade and alert the reading public to a thought-provoking interpretation of Victorian race relations and the rationale behind the final closure of Corenderrk and the dispersal of its people in 1924.
The undercover culture war that broke out in Melbourne in June 1875 after the shooting of the six deer continued, uninterrupted, through to the end of the colonial era. Led by the Legislative Council’s Usher of the Black Rod, the machinations of the Black Hat brigade are so convoluted that the Victorian Parliament, after having mounted a Royal Commission in 1877, and another larger Inquiry in 1881, had been still unable (or unwilling), to expose the scam.
William Barak and the Black Hats of Melbourne places before its readership, an intriguing story of race relations that no other author or researcher has so much as imagined to exist. So carefully hidden away were the machinations of leading lights in the Melbourne based acclimatisation society that they have until now succeeded in escaping even the trained eyes of historians.